Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chook shed DISASTER!!!!

I couldn’t write about this yesterday, it was too stressful! I mentioned on Tuesday’s post that the weather was blustery. It turned out that it was the windiest day we had had in a very long time! So much so, that our wonderful new DIY chook pen blew over. I couldn’t believe it. I was coming back from going around our lambing ewes (with two new orphan lambs, but that can be tomorrow’s story) and as I pulled back up to the house, I was greeted with this sight…..

20140626-143301.jpgActually I took this photo after I had walked around the yard collecting all the stuff that was supposed to be in the vegie garden half of the shed – it was spread all over the place, as was various feed and water dishes. And you can see the little chicken cage had got caught up and lifted up in the air!

It had blown right over and was resting on its gutter and the nesting boxes. The chooks didn’t seem too phased and we’re still just pecking around as normal. In fact the roosters thought it was great because they had access to the girls again! Segregation was over!!

I texted a couple of pics to Cam, but he couldn’t get home until about 6pm, so it was dark by the time we attempted to right it again. Again the chooks were unphased, and were perfectly happy to roost on a capsized house!

I was thinking we would have to pull it back over from out in the paddock. I had visions of it coming crashing down and falling to pieces, but clever Cam knew how to do it safely.

As you can see, he drove the tractor right up to it, and chained it to the forks. Then it was just a matter of slowly driving backwards, and lowering the forks at the same time. Some of the chooks had decided by this time that they would wake up and get involved (complaining loudly they were, too) so while Cam was lowering their house my job was to make sure they didn’t get squished!


20140626-145216.jpgit was still blowing a gale as we were doing this, so we left the tractor in position to stop it from happening again. This is how it still looks now! Even though the weather has calmed down I’ve been too nervous to move the tractor away, until Cam has time to drive some solid posts into the ground to anchor it down.

I’d stacked the pumpkins on the top of the nesting boxes. All were squashed except two butternuts, and this Queensland blue ended up wedged up in the gutter!

We still have a bit of work to do, to put the panels back in position for their yard, and straighten up the gutter so we keep collecting rain from the roof. But at least it’s operational again. I restocked the nesting boxes with straw this morning, and carted their feed and water drums back into position. The amazing thing was we still got 7 eggs from them on the day it blew over!

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Crutching the Rams

It is a blustery, wintery day here today. Cold, wet and windy! Our winter equinox was on the weekend, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that we are getting winter weather – but it makes going outside very unappealing!

We crutched our rams on the weekend, which was a job we had been putting off for a while now, so it was great to get it done.

Crutching is the process of shearing the wool off the back end of the sheep only, predominantly around the tail and in front of the hind legs. We do this for a couple of reasons – firstly, with the ewes, removing the wool around the udder makes it much easier for the new lambs to find the teat when they are first born. Secondly, and possibly more importantly when the wool around the tail gets long, it can get very dirty from faeces, which attracts the flies once the weather starts warming up. If you have ever seen a fly-blown sheep you will know how awful it is, and why we try to avoid it all cost.

The bulk of the ewes were done back at the start of April, which is the plan every year, ie just prior to lambing. We employ someone to do this for us, as it takes a couple of days to get through the entire mob. Usually we would get the rams done at the same time, but this year they were way up in a hill paddock, and we ran out of time to get them home.

Anyway we brought them home on Saturday, and crutched them on Sunday. Here’s the first one up on the board. Cam is holding it on its rump, and he’s about to bend down and shear around the tail. You can see how dirty it is  – considering he was completely shorn in November.

We only have 12 rams, but it still takes a couple of hours as they are such big animals. So they are heavy and very hard to maneuver. It’s also a long reach all the way down to their rump! Poor Cam was exhausted after each one.

Here’s some of them with their nice clean, newly shorn bottoms!!


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Green Tomato Pickles

After my vegie garden update, I had a number of questions regarding my recipe for Green Tomato Pickles, so I thought I would do a post about it today.

I had actually never tried Green Tomato Pickles before, but we always have a jar in the fridge – that I buy – because Cam loves it on sandwiches with cold left over lamb. It always looked a bit off putting to me! Anyway we had all these green tomatoes in the garden , so I thought why not give it a go. The recipe I found is quite an easy one, that uses a bottle of Wilds Ezy Sauce, which is a product made in Australia, that has a nice mix of vinegar and spices, great for adding to sauces.


So here’s the first lot of ingredients in the big pot….
5.5kg green tomatoes
2kg onions
1/2 cup salt
You mix all this around in the pot and leave to sit overnight. By morning there is a lot of juice in the bottom of the pot. Bring it all to the boil, then add 1.5kg sugar and the bottle of Ezy Sauce.
Simmer this uncovered for 2 hours. The first hour is fine, but by the second hour you really need to watch it and stir frequently as it sticks and burns if you’re not careful.
After 2 hours, I mixed:
1 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
2 tsp turmeric
With a small amount of water to make a smooth paste, then added it gradually,stirring it in quickly. Cooked it for a further 10 minutes, then filled hot sterilized jars and sealed them.

As well as what you can see here, there is another very large jar in the fridge that we are using, and I have given one away already. I’m amazed at how good it is. For lunch one day we had it with cold lamb and fresh hot bread, straight out of the bread machine. Another day I spread it on bread then topped it with cheese and cooked it under the griller. Yummo!

The recipe I used called for sliced tomatoes and onions. Next time I will chop them smaller, as it’s quite lumpy, not ideal for sandwiches. And I’ve since found an alternative mixture, if you can’t get Wilds ezy sauce.
350ml vinegar
Black pepper, cloves, chilli – to your taste.



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Vegie Garden Update

We’ve been having some very wintery weather here these last few days. It’s been quite nice actually, because the first two weeks of winter were very mild. Today we have had almost non-stop drizzly rain and cold, cold winds.

With lambing well and truly underway, the vegie garden has not got a lot of attention lately.

I’ve picked the last of the pumpkins. The butternuts have been ripe and have been turned into some wonderful pumpkin soup already. I hope the Queensland Blues will be ready also.

I’ve also been picking leeks and some rogue potatoes. The last of the tomatoes that were ripe were bottled and stored away, and I made some green tomato pickles out of a large stash of unripe ones that were still on the vines. I’ve picked the lower leaves from the brussel sprouts to give the developing sprouts room to grow, and laid the leaves out down the rows of onions to try and kill off the grass weeds that are growing between the rows. You can see this in the photo above.

The boys and I had a bit of a working bee on the weekend. Here’s Archie planting the garlic.


I usually plant two full bulbs of garlic, which yields at least 20 plants. This keeps us going for about 6 months. If I get time I will plant some more in the next couple of weeks, as it stores really well so long as I let it dry out properly.

While Archie was planting garlic, Danny and I were preparing the beds for the potatoes. Danny never feels the cold. Archie and I were in coats and beanies – Danny, shorts and t’shirt!

And here’s Archie planting the potatoes.

This year we’ve planted Dutch Creme potatoes. I haven’t planted them before, but the packet said they were a good all rounder, suitable for mashing, roasting and baking.

We’re still picking lots of celery, spinach, silver beet, broccoli and leeks. I made a great soup on the weekend with pumpkin, celery and leek.

I covered the capsicum bushes a couple of months ago, with a big tunnel of plastic, as I’d heard that if they don’t get frosted they can be biennial. Besides running a bit of water under the plastic I have pretty much ignored them. But today I had a peak underneath, and this is what I found…..

I’d love to know what everyone else has in their garden at this time of the year!

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Lambing Underway


Our ewes started lambing about three weeks ago. They are actually due to start on the 1st June ( because we put the rams in on New Years Day, and they have a 6 month gestation period). However they always seem to start about a week early.

I try and get around the ewes at least once a day. I look for things like ewes that are having trouble lambing, or lambs that have got separated from their mums or lambs that are weak. Also, because we are quite hilly often the big, heavily pregnant ewes will lie down, and get themselves cast on their backs and we have to tip them back onto their feet and steady them until they get their balance again. If left cast for too long they get week, and aren’t able to right themselves again, and have to be put down. Mostly so far it’s been rather uneventful which is good.



We have found one weak lamb, that was a twin that wasn’t getting enough milk. By the time we’d found it, it wasn’t able to stand up and was very cold. We brought it back to the house and bundled it up beside the fire. Luckily it was still strong enough to suckle, so it could drink from a bottle with just a little encouragement. Sometimes, when they are too weak, we have to tube the milk into them, which is an easy process and usually quite successful. Anyway this little one is now going great, and been named Mischeifa (don’t ask me why that name) by middle child Danny.

Of course, Shed Cat always has to be part of the action!



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Some pics from around the district

Well I think everyone around here has pretty much finished their sowing, which I’m sure is a nice feeling for us all. I’ve been travelling around the district over the last week or so, collecting some photos of the sowing operations going on. Here’s a sample of some of my favourites…









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